Does the Wet Suit You

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By J.J. Gasparotti

Today is the unknown anniversary of the death of the Laguna Beach Taxpayer’s Association. Judging from all the fiscal tomfoolery that is going down at the city council and up at the school board, our tax payer’s association has been dead for a long time.


The seemingly modest request from the school district to the city council for a second cop, complete with a new cruiser, to guard the schools can serve as today’s example of fiscal tomfoolery. Let’s start with taking a look at the school district that comes, silver cup in hand, asking for the city’s help.

The Laguna Beach Unified School District has 3,000 students and an annual budget in excess of $60 million. This works out to a district with $20,000 per student to fund all of its responsibilities, including school security. Average spending per student in California is $11,500. This makes the LBUSD one of the richest school districts in California. Still, it seeks the city’s help to do the district’s job.

That’s rich. It isn’t like the district needs the money for schools in the slums. LBUSD receives about 90 percent of its income from property taxes. This in a rich real estate market that has had tremendous price increases coupled with declines in residential population due to the numerous vacation homes in town. But here the district is, passing the hat, cadging dollars for its security desires.

Oh by the way, could the city please also annex some land that has no potential for income only liabilities? Because it may be a way to address a supposed 911 call issue. Our city council is taking this seriously. A live functioning taxpayer’s association would remind them that “no” isn’t a four-letter word, or a watch-out-this-is-going-to-invade-your-personal-space word, or even an inappropriate word.

No is the perfect word. It could go like this: “No, the city isn’t going to pay any of the district’s security bills. Security for the schools is the school district’s job, to be paid for with district money. The boundaries and taxpayers for the school district are not the same as the boundaries and taxpayers for the city. Emerald Bay, Newport Coast, and Laguna Audubon pay taxes and vote in the LBUSD but not in the City of Laguna Beach. It isn’t all the same taxpayers’ money and school security isn’t the city’s responsibility.”

The school district has 175 percent of the state average to spend. It should try to make do.

J.J. Gasparotti moved to Laguna Beach with his family when he was 11 years old. He has loved it ever since.

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  1. Ara Hovenesian highjacked the Taxpayers’ Association more than a few years ago, and refuses to let it be run by the people.

    He clearly has something to hide, and it’s a damn shame that our good city allowed something like this to happen!


  2. Thanks JJ – great article. I totally agree with you. You forgot to add in the unbelievable amount that SchoolPower donates to the district that they don’t have to spend. What they are doing is criminal. And why the City Council just rolls over and spends more of Laguna taxpayer money when it should come from those who pay into the school system (unincorporated areas) is beyond me. There will be a huge outcry if they decide to annex El Morro. That would be pure idiocy to solve a cell phone issue. I’m outraged by this school safety officer and car that we are providing – it should be a school expenditure, the end.

    AND yes, we desperately need a Taxpayer Association. We need a new one started – does anyone have the will to do it?


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